Breaking through limitations

When a cyclist became discouraged and overwhelmed while training for a long-distance event, she turned to God for inspiration – which turned her attitude and experience around completely.

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Last fall, a Kenyan athlete achieved an incredible feat: He ran a marathon distance (26.2 miles) in under two hours. Eliud Kipchoge “[broke] through a temporal barrier that many would have deemed untouchable only a few years ago,” The New York Times reported. Another inspiring individual is Shahieda Thungo, a South African athlete who has made it her mission to help others finish the Comrades Marathon, which is over 55 miles long (see CSMonitor.com, “South Africa’s unlikely ultramarathoner helps others cross the finish line,” Ryan Lenora Brown, July 6, 2018).

This kind of news can get us thinking deeply about the possibility of overcoming limits. Centuries ago Christ Jesus demonstrated the eternal nature of divine Life, unhampered by limited mortal perspectives. And by following his teachings and example, we too can peel away limitations and begin to experience man’s limitless capabilities as children of God.

In Christian Science, Life and Spirit are not properties of physicality, but Bible-based names for God, describing His essential nature. As we come to understand more of God and of our relation to Him as His spiritual expression, this opens the door to endless possibilities to triumph over a limited, too-small view of ourselves and others.

The textbook of Christian Science, “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy, opens on page 1 with these words of Christ Jesus: “whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them” (Mark 11:23, 24).

Science and Health explains how we can make this truth relevant today: “The prayer that reforms the sinner and heals the sick is an absolute faith that all things are possible to God, – a spiritual understanding of Him, an unselfed love” (p. 1). In a chapter titled “Physiology,” Mrs. Eddy writes, “The devotion of thought to an honest achievement makes the achievement possible” (p. 199).

While these promises point to a vast spectrum of possibilities for healing, as Jesus proved, we can begin to demonstrate over limits in whatever tasks we take on. I recently had an opportunity to put these ideas into practice when my husband and I signed up for a bicycle ride across our state, covering a total distance of more than 200 miles in one day.

Even though I’m an experienced cyclist, my training for this event was fraught with fear and self-doubt. My love for cycling seemed to vanish. I felt I had undertaken an impossible task.

Christian Science makes the bold statement that because God is infinite Mind, His creation is divinely mental, the expression of that Mind. One of the key things that’s been helpful for me in athletic activities is to remind myself that all of God’s children express the qualities of Mind, such as humility and the cooperative spirit needed for good teamwork. And to recognize that God, divine Spirit, is the source of endless spiritual resources. These ideas encouraged me as I continued with the training.

The day of the ride, as we rode along the quiet country roads, I watched as the sunlight gently spilled down on everything around me and the morning mist gradually faded away. I remember thinking, “Lord, no matter what happens the rest of this day, I am so incredibly grateful for this moment. Thank You for including me in Your glory!”

For the next 14 hours in the saddle, I held on to this feeling. It inspired in me a desire to show forth God’s love toward my fellow riders, and to let divine Mind own the present moment rather than just focus on the finish line. Each moment, I saw clearly, was an opportunity to express kindness, humility, encouragement, and support.

Everything about that day was glorious, filled with camaraderie, enthusiasm, liveliness, and love! One of the most humbling and satisfying moments came at the 200th mile, when the support crew at the last rest stop declared that my group was the most joyful and energetic they had seen all day. It turns out we were the final group who made the time cutoff that allowed us to continue on and finish the race.

Each of us, whether in athletics or other endeavors, can break through barriers of discouragement and limitation by turning to God as our source of joy, encouragement, and inspiration. Then we experience what Mrs. Eddy describes when she writes, “Pure humanity, friendship, home, the interchange of love, bring to earth a foretaste of heaven” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 100).

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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